What’s at stake in the EU-US trade deal talks | Letters

Letters: If the US refuses to adopt our standards, there will be no deal. The UK needs to be a proactive, confident member of the EU team

It is true, as Owen Jones suggests (Protest never changes anything?, 5 May), that the credibility of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership EU-US trade deal has taken a battering because of concerted public pressure. But this is no time for complacency. Off the record, civil servants at the European commission will tell you they are relaxed about TTIP hitting the buffers because negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada have been completed and await European parliament approval.

In terms of transferring power from countries to corporations, the CETA is every bit as bad as TTIP and contains a version of the thoroughly discredited investor state dispute settlement mechanism that allows big companies to sue governments in parallel courts if their rent-seeking activities are curtailed by legislation protecting public services.

Some 85% of US firms have subsidiaries in Canada, thus giving them access to Europe via CETA. Moreover, the US, Canada and Mexico have their own North American Free Trade Agreement, and under “most favoured nation” commitments, the EU deal with Canada could effectively be bound by its rules, including an even worse ISDS clause.

If this were not bad enough, EU-Canada negotiators are pushing for ways to effect a “provisional implementation” of CETA without a vote in either the European parliament or the legislature of any EU member state. And should that approach fail, the Trade in Services Agreement, currently being negotiated by the European commission, the US and 19 other countries, will eliminate what is left of member states’ ability to decide their own economic destiny.
Bert Schouwenburg
International officer, GMB

• I smile when I hear people congratulating the French and Germans for standing up to the EU on TTIP. In the UK we fundamentally misunderstand what the EU is: France and Germany aren’t defending themselves against the EU, they are shaping the EU. The EU doesn’t do things to us: it is us working together.

The European parliament has passed great laws to protect us from the unrestrained activities of business. Laws to defend workers’ rights and to protect consumers, to cut carbon emissions and pollution, ban dangerous pesticides, and protect biodiversity and public service procurement. Laws to improve health and safety at work and to ensure part-time workers get holiday pay.

A confident EU is negotiating the possibility of a trade deal with the US, which would allow the US access to the world’s largest single market (520 million consumers in the EU) if it adopts our standards. If the US refuses to adopt our standards, there will be no deal. The UK needs to remain a proactive, confident member of the EU team, bringing its energies and skills to help shape a common future for Europe, not carping from the sidelines that others are doing things to us.
Christian Vassie

• The strategy underlying TTIP is more important than the details. The US wants European companies to increase yet further its dominance of global trade, and it wants to increase its encirclement of Russia. TTIP takes its economic boundaries right up to the Russian border. The US could also strike down the statutes governing North Sea oil and gas. These require all product to be landed in the UK for payment of duty and for the most part for export. (As I am now retired from the DTI, I checked with a lawyer in the oil and gas business who confirmed that this could be done.) Just the threat stops the chance of reasonable independence for Scotland and guarantees the continuing presence of Trident in Faslane.

Immediately on joining the EU, the DTI was involved in negotiations on new directives and the mood at first was positive. But it did not take long before it realised there was a long-term objective – not just a federal Europe, but one whose economic policies would be determined centrally. The real danger has to be that the US and the EU will realise that each could help the other achieve their goals. Instead of random opposition, countries should find a way of collaborating to present a solid front that cannot be ignored.
David Hill
Guildford, Surrey

• Owen Jones is an optimist. I’m a cynic. Was President François Hollande rejecting TTIP or negotiating in public? He has stated the exemptions France wants before signing. The only safe way to avoid TTIP is to go to the back of the queue and wait 10 years or preferably 100 years. All the supporters of the remain campaign, left or right, tell us that the EU is far from perfect and needs reform. But none of them tell us how they are going to achieve this reform. They will not even admit that a parliament that cannot amend, only ratify or reject, is effectively powerless. There will always be pork-barrel politics to get enough votes to ratify. Green Leaves, the Green party’s leave campaign, believes that the EU is now totally beyond reform.
Michael Gold
Secretary, Green Leaves

• “I am a staunch supporter of free trade,” writes Michael Pfeiffer (Letters, 4 May). This hackneyed mantra is encouraging politicians, including local councillors, to support a trade deal which will do irreparable damage to their own authority and their freedom to act in the interest of the public. And of course big business trading is not free it is rigged and certainly not rigged in favour of small businesses as your libertarian Free Democratic party correspondent implies. Can we stop calling corporate manipulation of unelected bureaucrats and elected politicians “free”?
John Airs

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Transatlantic trade deal threatens democracy | Letters
Letters: Greens have long opposed TTIP as a corporate power grab and certainly not in the public interest


10, Jun, 2015 @6:25 PM

Article image
EU-US trade deal could add £10bn to UK economy a year, claims minister
TTIP negotiations are transparent and are not driven by interests of big transnational firms that want deregulation, says Livingston

Katie Allen

01, Sep, 2014 @3:43 PM

Article image
Who really benefits from free trade agreements like TTIP, Ceta and Nafta? | Letters
Letters: The unfettered free trade we have now, based largely upon who can pay least to those producing our goods, is not fair trade. It has run its course


15, Nov, 2016 @7:01 PM

Article image
Walloons make a good point about free trade | Letters
Letters: It’s not surprising that the EU is facing such a crisis of legitimacy when such backroom deals cooked up with big business lobbyists are foisted on the public without proper consultation


25, Oct, 2016 @6:48 PM

Article image
This US-Europe trade deal needs revision | Letters
Letters: Who can predict what actions a government may need to take in the future that might impinge of the profits of investors?

24, Feb, 2015 @6:17 PM

Article image
Britain’s part in making the EU a plaything of corporate interests | Letters
Letters: That the union has become increasingly neoliberal and dysfunctional has much to do with policies promoted by UK governments since 1979


03, Feb, 2016 @7:26 PM

Article image
France demands an end to TTIP talks
Trade minister blames lack of progress on US intransigence and the president François Hollande said France would not support a deal this year

Sean Farrell

30, Aug, 2016 @1:59 PM

Article image
The devil is in the detail of post-Brexit trade deals | Letters
Letters: If we succeed in making trade treaties they will mostly be on unfavourable terms, as we will be on the weak side in most cases


18, Jan, 2017 @7:19 PM

Article image
US seeking bilateral trade deal with UK to press EU on TTIP
American officials moving swiftly to cement economic relationship with Britain and speed up stalled transatlantic trade deal with Europe

Patrick Wintour diplomatic editor

20, Jul, 2016 @5:41 PM

Article image
A threat to democracy? The EU-US trade deal is no such thing | Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke: Response: George Monbiot paints the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as a corporate plot. It's a bizarre overreaction

Ken Clarke

13, Mar, 2014 @3:59 PM